Reflecting On 2014 Education Legislation
As I reflect on the 2014 Missouri legislative session, it is easy to get caught up in what could have been. I would have loved for the transfer fix to have resulted in a school choice law that significantly expanded opportunities for students. That was not to be the case. Still, the Missouri Legislature did do some good things.
Last year, opponents of Common Core were not able to get any legislation passed. Not even a bill requiring public meetings on the matter. This year, lawmakers passed a Common Core bill with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill does not repeal Common Core, but does make the repeal possible. The bill calls for convening work groups to evaluate Missouri’s education standards. The result could be a new set of standards or the groups could end up adopting Common Core. More importantly, the bill will make it impossible for a new set of learning standards to be foisted upon Missourians without the public’s knowledge.
The legislature also took a small step in the right direction on teacher licensing. With the passage of Senate Bill 782, the legislature created a new pathway to the classroom for prospective elementary school teachers. Now, individuals can obtain certification to teach elementary school from the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE). ABCTE already offers teacher certification in several middle and high school subjects. This reduces barriers to entering the teaching profession, making it easier for mid-career professionals to switch careers. Thus far, studies of ABCTE teachers have been pretty positive.
This simple expansion of pathways to the classroom will not lead to a systematic change, but it is a great piece of legislation. It is simple, to the point (about four lines of text), and reduces unnecessary barriers to entering the teaching profession.